Babich plans new winery

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 07:22 05/11/2012
Babich Wines
Babich Wines

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Auckland-based Babich Wines plans to build a 6000-tonne capacity winery in the Cloudy Bay Business Park in time for the 2014 vintage, managing director Joe Babich says.

The 96-year-old family-owned wine business sold its 50 per cent share of Rapaura Vintners to Treasury Wine Estates last week, after 12 years of producing its wine at the Jacksons Rd winery.

Babich said the two businesses had outgrown the 15,000-tonne capacity Rapaura Vintners winery, and the sale was a mutual agreement to part ways.

"We've been involved with Rapaura Vintners for 12 years as shareholders, but we've come to an agreement. We are both in a growth phase and the best path forward is to build our own winery."

Babich would build its new winery at the Cloudy Bay Business Park, south of Blenheim, in time for the 2014 vintage. The company would produce its 2013 vintage at Rapaura Vintners, he said.

The winery would begin with 4000-tonne capacity and grow to 6000 tonnes as production increased.

Babich owns more than 220 hectares of vineyards in the Awatere, Waihopai and Wairau valleys. Two of their six contract growers have been with the company since they first came to Marlborough in 1990, he said.

More than 80 per cent of Babich Wines' production is in Marlborough, and the expansion showed their confidence in the region, Babich said.

Treasury Wine Estate announced last week it was planning to expand. Wine production and brands director Sam Glaetzer said the company planned to expand the winery and increase capacity from 15,000 tonnes to 25,000 tonnes in time for the 2013 vintage.

Marlborough District Council property files show the value of the proposed work is $11 million.

The winery will be renamed Matua Marlborough and will employ more staff to fulfil the increased volume, he said.

They will continue to provide packaging and warehousing services to existing Marlborough customers indefinitely, Glaetzer said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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